Monday, December 22, 2008

Caroling, caroling, now we go.

I'm pretty particular when it comes to Christmas music. I can't stand it until the month of December. And I'm a purist of the Andy Williams / Johnny Mathis school: if you've ever had anything to do with American Idol, your Christmas album is dead to me.

So the Andy Williams / Johnny Mathis thing is, like pretty much everything, totally my mom's fault.

I hear Nat King Cole and Eddy Arnold and Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis crooning about Christmas, and it makes me think of my childhood. It just feels like Christmas. We had all these records, and to this day, I cannot think of Johnny Mathis without picturing him on the slopes, a la this album cover:
This music makes me think of wrapping gifts and making cookies. And of being very cold. I did grow up in Iowa, after all.

Now, a pain point in my parents' 40-year relationship has always been a certain reel-to-reel tape of my mom's. It contains all sorts of Christmas music from her childhood, and my dad just cannot stand it, even though they are the same age. (Ok, she's two years younger, just because I know she'll point that out. Hi, Mom!)

The reel-to-reel has long been in the crawlspace, but a cassette of this infamous tape survives. It includes songs that are never on any radio station, but really should be. To make me feel especially decrepit, I've been unable to find audio or even lyrics to a few of them ... which adds credence to the idea that I hallucinated parts of my childhood.

Little Gayla is famous for her soulful rendition of "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas," but this song is actually my favorite. It's the tale of a little doll who was sent to Santa for repairs and is to be delivered home Christmas day. And she's plucky.

Another question song, and the single most depressing Christmas song ever. To be totally fair to my dad and his hatred of this entire tape, I would generally go hide in the bathroom when this song came on. It's just so painful. Go ahead, click the link. You know you want to.

Little Johnny Snowball / Bow Wow wants a boy for Christmas - Red Buttons
I don't remember much about Little Johnny Snowball, but Bow Wow is the second saddest Christmas song ever. It's all about a puppy who just wants a boy. And there are cute little dog barks throughout the song. And in this season of missing the Geriatric Poodle and being sooooo tempted to adopt another dog? Well, this song pretty much makes me want to die.

I'm gettin' nuthin' for Christmas (cuz I ain't been nuthin' but baaad)
I can't find who sang this, but as a child, I listened on with disdain. Surely this was a kid who ate paste.

Willy Claus - Molly Bee
This was evidently the A side to "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus." It's about Santa Claus' son, Willy, who saves the day when Santa gets sick. Willy seemed like a bit of a kiss-up, if you asked my childhood self. I guess I was looking for a song about a kid who didn't eat paste but who wasn't trying to take over for his old man.

Christmas don't be late - The Chipmunks
Obviously, a classic. My mom and I do a great rendition of this one.

What weird holiday tunes make you feel like it's really, truly Christmas?


LaDue & Crew said...

Santa Baby, by Eartha Kitt- Love it! Johnny Mathis brings fond memories- oh I love him! The Little Drummer Boy has a wonderful calming effect on me- and I haven't heard it yet this year which explains why I am so uptight still!

Unknown said...

My all time favorite Christmas album is the Stevie Wonder Christmas. I don't know why because when you listen to the words, most of the songs are depressing, but he manages to put a happy spin on them. I love all the standards that you mention. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is my favorite song and I pretty much love anything sung by Karen Carpenter.

LaDue & Crew said...

Thanks! My best partner in crime told me if I didn't go get my hair cut she would do it herself- naturally, I listened! I had fallen into that mommy mode... long hair below the shoulder. Multiple shades of brown and gray- but always wore it in a pony tail or threw on a hat. I was turning 45 and whining uncontrollably about how I felt and looked like shit. So crime partner got me a gift certificate for my birthday, the salon forced me to relax with multiple glasses of wine, and before I knew it my hair was AWOL... apparently somewhere in between glasses I had said 'go for it' It was a good thing. Thanks again for the compliment- it really makes me feel so much better about the new 'do'!

Average Jane said...

For me it's Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole and Julie Andrews. I have them all on CD now in versions as close as I could get to the ones we had when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

Our taste is SO similar--are you certain we weren't separated at birth somehow? Anyway, totally with you on the paste commentary. I do love Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole--Frank Sinatra, too. They please me most at Christmastime.

Linda Summerfield Crispell said...

My Dad forced us to listen to Gregorian Chants, not very toe tappin'!
Have a wonderful holiday!
Your Pal,
P.S. I smell great now!

Wally Howerton said...

When I was 5 or 6 I had to sing "Bow Wow wants a Boy for Christmas" in front of our church in southern Virginia. This would have been the winter of 55 or 56 I believe. My mother practiced with me for hours/days. Even the church pianist/organist had a couple of run throughs with me. I had it down perfect! Well, the night of the performance, mom put a giant red bow on Chi Chi our Pekinese. I was in my suit and bow tye looking spiffy! The music started and I started to sing. Through all the practices, Chi Chi was absent after all she wasn't going to sing. Well, Chi Chi was the star performer that night. She started howling and didn't stop until the music ended. Mom was crying and mortified, I was frustrated telling Chi Chi to shut up, and the entire Church was literally rolling inthe aisles. I was looking for the words to the song because I am writing and posting short stories for my grandchildren. That Christmas was a wonderful Christmas. I still laugh!